Phnom Penh Rental Market, an Expat's Guide

Feb. 16, 2017, 11:42 a.m.

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Realestate.com.kh understands that the Phnom Penh rental market can be a little daunting for expats fresh to the Kingdom looking for a new home. In light of this, Realestate.com.kh has taken a survey of the average prices of rental properties in Phnom Penh, and let you know what differently classified Phnom Penh rental properties are likely to provide.

Not surprising, Phnom Penh offers a host of real estate options for expat renters - whether it be a traditional wooden Khmer-style townhouse, a classic French-inspired Villa home, or a state of the art condominium unit, built by an international investment company. Clever expat or local renters can win in the Phnom Penh market place if they know what is available, and what reflects a reasonable price for those properties. The following should be a good start, thanks to Realestate.com.kh! We can break the Phnom Penh rentals market into four broad categories: Full-Serviced Apartments, Western Apartments, Khmer-Style Shophouses, and Renovated Shophouses.

Let’s explore the attributes of each type of Phnom Penh rental property, and the average cost of leasing in different areas of town.

serviced apartment

1) Serviced Apartments in Phnom Penh: 

Luxury is increasingly in demand in Phnom Penh - but as the supply of luxury serviced apartments begins to exceed demand, luxury can also be very affordable. Full-service apartments provide almost everything you could want in a Phnom Penh apartment.

Expect, at minimum, western style architecture and interior layouts, natural light, views, modern equipped kitchen including an oven, modern bathrooms, and expansive closets. Services such as laundry, Internet, cable, water, and even concierge services are included in the new breed of serviced apartments around Phnom Penh. Most of these accommodations also include one or more elevators, security, car, bike, and moto parking, gyms and/or swimming pools. Expect organized rent collection and hasty replies to your maintenance requests. You will almost certainly have air con.

Serviced apartments are generally easy to find in the city, but expect prices to be higher than other types of accommodation, and don’t be surprised if vacancy rates low. Service apartments are somewhat impersonal, compared to other types of Phnom Penh rentals. Due to their size and relative vacancies, it may be more difficult to get to know your neighbors or your landlord. For a young professional or family, however, this extra space and privacy may be appreciated. They are also generally high rise apartments, so chances are you can land a great view of the city! Rough Price Range for 1 Bedroom Service Apartments:

  • CBD - Chamkarmon, Daun Penh = $1000 – $1700 per month;
  • Outskirts - Toul Kork, Sen Sok, Olympic, Toul Tom Poung = $800 – $1200 per month.

2) Western Style Apartments in Phnom Penh:

A “Western Style” apartment is a term that is thrown around a lot on the Phnom Penh rental market – and those properties fitting this description can vary widely. A “western” apartment can in fact represent anything from a few apartment units on the third floor, to a unit within a high-rise multi-unit tower. However, generally, those properties termed as western-style apartments in Phnom Penh have more amenities than those sold as Khmer-style units.

So called “Western apartments” are generally newly constructed, have windows in every room and plenty of natural light, western style toilets and a kitchen with full cooking amenities; this should include all standard appliances and plenty of cabinet space, counter space, and an integrated cooktop. Often these apartment’s bathrooms will include a hot shower, a bathtub and floor tiles. A western style apartment should have a larger living space with somewhat modern lighting fixtures.

Western apartments will also generally be furnished, and with furnishing such as plush sofa’s – as opposed to purely wooden furniture preferred in traditional khmer houses. Internet, cable, water and sometimes cleaning are generally included in the rental rate. Some of these properties will have elevators and might even have shared rooftop terrace areas. Expect parking for bicycles and motos. You should always get an air conditioner – in fact, this can be the sole reason the seller has called it “western.” Essentially, the “Western” label should lead you to believe that the construction is of a higher standard, as is the overall security of the building.

For a foreigner there is also the benefit of having many foreign tenants, making it easy to make friends when your first settle in. Owners of western apartments are generally more experienced with this market and will follow through with your rental maintenance requests. Price Range For 1 Bedroom Western Apartments (non serviced):

  • CBD - Chamkarmon, Daun Penh = $600 – $1000 per month;
  • Outskirts - Toul Kork, Sen Sok, Olympic, Toul Tom Poung = $500 – $700 per month.

 shophouse

3) Khmer-style Shop House: 

A Khmer-style shophouse is still one of the most common property types in Phnom Penh, found in nearly every Phnom Penh neighborhood. They can also be built into three or four-story low-rise row homes. A shophouse, khmer style, is generally about four meters in width and roughly 16 meters long. The doors to enter will be in the front or back of the shop house, and the walls on either side will almost always have no windows. In a khmer-style shophouse, bedrooms won’t generally have windows, and if they do, they will face toward the interior of the home as opposed to the outside – thus, generally providing no natural light.

Bedrooms will normally have movable dressers or rattan shelving, as opposed to inbuilt storage space provided in the more modern designs of apartments. Kitchen layouts in Khmer-style shop houses are generally fairly basic too. Expect to see a sink or two and a one burner gas cooktop. Don’t expect an oven and you will be lucky if you get much cabinet space.

Don’t expect hot water, anywhere in the house. Bathrooms generally won’t have a separate shower or windows - but will be well equipped with floor to ceiling tiles, and the infamous bum gun. Bathrooms are just “wet rooms” without a separate shower in many cases. Home furnishings are seldom included, and if they are, expect them to be either rattan or wood. Expect, in terms of furnishings, no more than chairs, coffee table, and a table for eating.

Although basic shop houses are still surprisingly popular with foreign renters, ultimately, their simplicity creates a kind of charm – and the price gap between these common shop houses, and new serviced units entering the market, are incomparable. Those that accept these shophouses for long term rents are generally expecting the landlord to make improvements or are being permitted by the landlord to make changes and modifications to the home themselves. With the right design and decoration, this style of house can be tailored to your preferences, and made to look much more valuable than their rental price. Expect to live close to your neighbors and get to know your neighborhood – which is a valuable experience for many expat renters. Rough Price Range For 1 Bedroom Khmer-style Shop Houses:

  • CBD - Chamkarmon, Daun Penh = $300 - $400 per month;
  • Outskirts - Toul Kork, Sen Sok, Olympic, Toul Tom Poung = $300 and under per month.

rennovated townhouse

4) Renovated Shop House:

A renovated shop house, basically a khmer shop house that has undergone a makeover, can be harder to find in Phnom Penh. But when you find the right renovated shop house, you can get the authentic khmer style of living, with all the western amenities at hand. Adding to your search, the renovated shop house can often appear camouflaged from the outside as they generally have the same construction and outward appearances as the standard Khmer-style shop house.

However, look inside to discover a gem – as the owner has in fact renovated the apartment interior with Western finishes, fixtures and amenities, yet still encapsulated in the same 4 x 16 meter layout. Keep your eyes peeled for new floors, added windows, and updated lighting fixtures. Other home furnishings will be newer – such as plush couches/sofas, and maybe a glass coffee table. A clear sign that a shop house has been renovated are the addition of external windows in the bedroom, facing the outside.

Bedrooms may also have added features since the renovation, such as built-in closets, built-in shelving and air-conditioning. Renovated shop house kitchens will usually have cabinets for storage, and newer, western style appliances. Still, be aware that furnishings and construction may be cheap and require maintenance.

Renovated shop house are great for foreigners who want to live comfortably on a budget while meanwhile maintaining the charm and community of living in a Khmer-style shop house. Owners are quite often friendly to expats and eager to please throughout the contract. More importantly - the prices are affordable. Rough Price Range For 1 Bedroom Renovated Shop Houses:

  • CBD - Chamkarmon, Daun Penh = $600 - $700 per month;
  • Outskirts - Toul Kork, Sen Sok, Olympic, Toul Tom Poung = $400 - $600 per month.
Learn more about the Phnom Penh Market here. Check out our pre-signing checklist for rental properties now!